Rap battle and political correctness don't typically mix, but that's the point of the film Bodied, written by Canadian author and rapper Alex Larsen, better known to some as Kid Twist.

The film follows the character of Adam, portrayed by Victoria-born actor Calum Worthy, a white and purportedly progressive graduate student who dives into the underground community of battle rapping for his thesis project.

Joseph Kahn who has been directing music videos for over 25 years joins Larsen on this project, which shatters the boundaries of political correctness and evaluates the power of language.

"We're at a point in society right now where we can't really talk about things honestly because it either swings… too left or too right and the entire idea of being able to say controversial things is kind of out of the question," Kahn told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

War of words

But in the ring of a rap battle, just about anything can be said. Rap battles involve two people engaged in a war of words in front of an audience. It typically includes rhymed insults and bravado.

The film aims to discuss topics of race, appropriation, political correctness and privilege, issues many feel are too sensitive to touch.

"The intent was to put it all out there, to bring this out on a naked level where you could see everything," Kahn said.

Kahn has seen varied reactions from audiences but generally the film seems to act as a cathartic experience for many, a chance to laugh at the sensitive reality of many college campuses today.

"When you get into a movie theatre and people can finally laugh about this stuff, it's a release."

Kahn has seen varied reactions from audiences but generally the film seems to act as a cathartic experience for many.

'It's a release'

"When you get into a movie theatre and people can finally laugh about this stuff, it's a release…

"It's a satire in the truest form, that we're roasting things. We're throwing them in the air, we're letting them shatter on the ground… but the actual act of it is offensive and it's meant to be."

The film is produced by rapper Eminem, who starred in 8 Mile, playing the role of Jimmy, a white rapper in Detroit.

Kahn sees Bodied as an evolution of that film, which looks at how rap battles have become more mainstream.

The film makes its West Coast premier on Sunday at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver at 9 pm as part of the Grind Film Festival.

To hear the full interview with director Joseph Kahn, listen to media below:


With files from the CBC's On The Coast